The relationship between psychosocial work characteristics and fatigue and psychological distress

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2002 Apr;75(4):259-66. doi: 10.1007/s00420-001-0294-0. Epub 2001 Nov 16.


Objectives: To examine the associations between psychosocial work characteristics and fatigue in employees in the Maastricht Cohort Study. A second objective was to compare the relationships for fatigue versus psychological distress with these psychosocial work characteristics.

Methods: The design was cross-sectional and included 11,020 employees who responded to the self-administered baseline questionnaire of the Maastricht Cohort Study. Fatigue was measured with the Checklist Individual Strength, a 20-item self-report instrument. Psychological distress was measured with the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire. Psychosocial work characteristics comprised: psychological demands, decision latitude, and social support at work as measured by the Job Content Questionnaire, as well as emotional demands at work, physical demands at work, job insecurity, and conflict with supervisor/co-worker, which were assessed with items from existing Dutch questionnaires.

Results: Low decision latitude and low social support at work were associated with fatigue in both men and women. Associations were also found between emotional demands at work, job insecurity, physical demands and conflict with supervisor and fatigue in men; and high psychological demands and fatigue in women. As regards psychological distress, there was no association with low decision latitude, but strong associations with emotional demands and conflict with supervisor in both genders.

Conclusions: The study provides strong support for associations between psychosocial work characteristics and fatigue in men and women, even after adjustment for psychological distress. Moreover, it suggests some differential effects of psychosocial work characteristics on fatigue and psychological distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Schedule Tolerance